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Jews in Tel Aviv celebrate the partition resolution


UN partition plan
UN partition of Palestine

Britain, which had ruled Palestine since 1920, handed over responsibility for solving the Zionist-Arab problem to the UN in 1947.

The territory was plagued with chronic unrest pitting native Arabs against Jewish immigrants (who now made up about a third the population, owning about 6% of the land). The situation had become more critical with the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution in Europe. Some six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust during World War II.

The UN set up a special committee which recommended splitting the territory into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. Palestinian representatives, known as the Arab Higher Committee, rejected the proposal; their counterparts in the Jewish Agency accepted it.

The partition plan gave 56.47% of Palestine to the Jewish state and 43.53% to the Arab state, with an international enclave around Jerusalem. On 29 November 1947, 33 countries of the UN General Assembly voted for partition, 13 voted against and 10 abstained. The plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians, was never implemented.

Britain announced its intention to terminate its Palestine mandate on 15 May 1948 but hostilities broke out before the date arrived.

The death of British soldiers in the conflict made the continuing presence in Palestine deeply unpopular in Britain. In addition, the British resented American pressure to allow in more Jewish refugees - a sign of growing US support for Zionism.

Both Arab and Jewish sides prepared for the coming confrontation by mobilising forces. The first "clearing" operations were conducted against Palestinian villages by Jewish forces in December.


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